Bears overreactions: Did Claypool trade cost too much?


The Bears had a whirlwind last week.

Let's recap.

The Bears traded Robert Quinn to the Philadelphia Eagles, lost a 49-29 shootout to the Cowboys in Dallas, traded Roquan Smith to the Baltimore Ravens, and acquired Chase Claypool from the Pittsburgh Steelers.

It was an active trade deadline for general manager Ryan Poles, which signaled the end of his teardown and the start of Phase 2 of the rebuild.

Feelings were mixed at the trade deadline. Did the Bears get enough for Smith? Give up too much for Claypool? Did they do enough to help Justin Fields? What does the Claypool trade say about Fields' standing with the new regime?

Let's sift through the overreactions from the Bears' hectic trade deadline and the loss to the Cowboys.

Overreaction? Yes and no.

Did the Bears overpay to acquire Chase Claypool? Yes. If you look at the player, the production, and the price, a top-40 pick probably was too much to spend.

But these deals aren't done in a vacuum.

Should they have traded the Ravens' pick instead? Sure. But this isn't Madden. It's a near certainty that Poles offered the Ravens' pick first.

If the Green Bay Packers were, as reports suggest, offering a second-round pick for Claypool, the Bears had to beat that offer. That means giving up what is likely the better of their two second-round picks. Sometimes that's the cost of doing business.

You also have to factor in the cost of not acquiring Claypool.

With the way Justin Fields has been playing of late, the Bears were smart to start their 2023 roster reconstruction at the deadline. Adding an explosive receiver that fits their timeline and still has one-and-a-half seasons left on his rookie deal makes a lot of sense.

What Claypool does best also is something the Bears' offense is missing. Fields is a prolific deep-ball thrower, and Claypool is an efficient go-route runner with 34 contested catches since 2020.

The poor 2023 free-agent wide receiver class also played into this move. By adding Claypool, the Bears can focus their offseason money elsewhere.

The move will, like everything, be unfairly judged on hindsight. If Claypool and Fields gel and the receiver cements himself as part of Poles' foundation, it will be said the pick was worth it. If he flops, the opposite will be true.

The price for Claypool was high. But in my opinion, it was a worthwhile move for Poles considering all aspects of the deal. 

Overreaction? Yes.

Going to frame this as, "Should the Bears have gotten more for Roquan?"

When you see players like Bradley Chubb going for a first-round pick, it's easy to think the Bears should have received a first for a 25-year-old Pro Bowl linebacker.

But given that Smith plays a non-premium position, wants a record-setting extension, and never budged on his desire for the Bears to trade him, Poles was hamstrung.

Getting a second and a fifth is pretty good work for a player that wasn't ball-productive in the vital spot in head coach Matt Eberflus' defense and wasn't interested in mending fences with the front office.

Overreaction? No.

There's no tanking in the NFL. The game is too physical and too dangerous to mail it in.

But by dealing away two of their best defensive players, Poles turned his attention to life beyond 2022. The Bears are trying to build a winning culture and shape the foundation of what they hope is a long-term winner.

When that involves trading away guys like Robert Quinn and Roquan Smith, it's hard to marry the idea of winning now and building for later.

It's not an overreaction to say the Bears, without Smith and Quinn, will be worse over the final nine games and likely will have a higher pick because of the decision to jettison two defensive captains.

Overreaction? No. 

With the addition of Claypool and a weak free-agent receiver class, the Bears should put a lot of the expected $110 million in cap space to use on the lines. Both of them.

Only Trevis Gipson and Dominique Robinson stand out as potential long-term roster pieces when looking at the current defensive line. Justin Jones has been OK at the three-technique but hasn't popped and shown himself to be a consistent disruptor. Al-Quadin Muhammad has been OK in the run support but has just 11 pressures and one sack in eight games, per Pro Football Focus.

The free-agent defensive tackle class isn't teaming with talent, but at the moment, it does have guys like Daron Payne and Javon Hargrave. Payne, 25, likely fits the Bears' timeline more than the soon-to-be 30 Hargrave. Payne is someone I think the Bears should target, given his ability to create constant pressure from the interior. Larry Ogunjobi also is set to hit the market again.

As for edge rusher, Marcus Davenport and Yannick Ngakoue stand out the most. The Bears should also have edge rusher high atop their list of draft needs.

Overreaction? Yes, but check back. 

The 2021 QB class has had a disappointing second season.

We still don't know what Trey Lance is, Zach Wilson sometimes looks like he's never played quarterback, and Trevor Lawrence is having red-zone issues.

I was a big Fields guy coming out of Ohio State, and I remain convinced that he has the talent to be a franchise quarterback. A damn good one.

He certainly has played the best of the 2021 class of late, but I'm still going to go with Lawrence. Lawrence ranks sixth in EPA per dropback outside of the red zone this season, trailing Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Tua Tagovailoa, Jalen Hurts, and Geno Smith.

Now, as Fields and the Bears know, execution in the red zone determines the outcome of games. Lawrence needs to clean that up, but I still think he has superstar talent.

RELATED: Bears' locker room shocked by 'WTF' Roquan trade

But if Fields keeps stacking good performances, he can overtake Lawrence soon. They are 1A/1B for me right now.

As for the franchise quarterback label, Fields has shown the Bears enough growth for them to trade a second-round pick for Claypool. That tells you they have seen him hit the necessary checkpoints.

Don't pencil him in for the next five to 10 years just yet, but I love the trajectory through eight games.

Overreaction? Yes. 

Not knocking what Fields is doing. He has been very impressive over the last month. But the Bears have the best running game in the NFL. That has to count for something.

The offensive line stinks and the receiving corps isn't special. But the Bears' running game and Luke Getsy's adjustments have opened things up for Fields.

I don't have a list of the worst QB situations of the past 5-10 years. But I remember the 2016 Colts putting little around Andrew Luck. I mean, 33-year-old Frank Gore was his best offensive weapon next to T.Y. Hilton. The offensive line had two rookies on it. Luck still threw for 4,240 yards and 31 touchdowns.

You can also argue that what Tom Brady did with the 2019 Patriots is up there. Brady had a banged-up and aging Julian Edelman, N'Keal Harry, James White, Sony Michel, and Philip Dorsett as his weapons. He threw for 4,057 yards and 24 touchdowns while leading the Patriots to a 12-4 record.

Fields has been good in less-than-ideal circumstances. But he has only thrown seven touchdown passes and is only completing 58.5 percent of his passes. There is still a lot of room for improvement. But he's trending in the right direction.

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